The plan to reopen Fresno's Water Tower

FRESNO, Calif.

It's been a fixture since 1894. And for years, it's served as the city's official visitor center, where people could come and get maps and flyers regarding things to do in and around Fresno. But, it closed two months ago, and now group of volunteers are hoping to reopen the tourist attraction.

Fresno's water tower has welcomed people to Downtown Fresno for more than a century. But, for the past two months, it has sat vacant. That came as a surprise even for someone who walks past the land mark nearly every day.

"Did you know the water tower was closed?

No. I did not know it was closed."

Gearhart Fries volunteers across the street at the Veterans Memorial Museum. He says having the water tower in such close proximity benefits the museum.

Gearhart Fries said, "This morning, there was about a group of about thirty people came in and they went to the tower first, and it was closed. Then they came here and went through the museum."

But running the water tower costs about $1,000.00 a month in utility costs, extra money the city doesn't have.

Nicole Zieba said, "But we're going through dire financial times right as you're aware and we're laying off employees and it just doesn't seem right to be laying off employees so that we can turn lights on at the water tower."

That's where Cathy Caples comes in. She's the director of Hands On Central California, a non-profit volunteer organization. Caples already has volunteers ready to work at the tower six days a week. Now, all the group needs is $12 thousand to keep the tower open for at least another year.

Cathy Caples said, "This is a piece of our history. It's on all our materials that go out across the country and the world about Fresno, on the freeway, there are signs for the water tower. We just think it's important."

The city is working with Hands On Central California to make that happen. The volunteer organization also hopes to sell local art from the water tower.

The Fresno Coin Gallery pledged to donate $3,000.00 to help the cause.

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